City Council agrees to combine two housing resolutions

(Flyer photo, file)

FAYETTEVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday held a special workshop session to discuss how to move forward with a pair of resolutions aimed at addressing affordable housing.

The proposals were brought forward at the council’s last meeting on March 19 that included a three-hour discussion on the topic. Talks of combining the two resolutions, coupled with some confusion over a few proposed amendments, led to the tabling of both proposals. The workshop session was later scheduled to continue the discussion.

The first of the two resolutions was brought forward by council members D’Andre Jones and Sarah Moore, who said they agreed to sponsor a proposal written by a group called the Fayetteville Housing Action Coalition. That proposal called for declaring a housing crisis, forming of a task force, and hiring a new city employee to coordinate affordable housing efforts. It also directed city staff to make several pledges and commitments, including forming regional partnerships, establishing metrics, asking lawmakers for additional funding, and advertising the resolution to mobilize support.

» See the first resolution here

The second resolution was drafted by Councilmember Mike Wiederkehr, who said he’d prefer a proposal that was less focused on emotional appeal and more productive in nature. Wiederkehr’s proposal was co-sponsored by Scott Berna, Sarah Bunch, Holly Hertzberg and Teresa Turk. It listed the city’s current and past initiatives to address affordable housing, which is something Wiederkehr said the other resolution seemed to ignore and could be interpreted as condescending to the city’s existing efforts. It also proposed increased developer fees to pay the salary of a new employee such as an engineer, a deputy of development services, a planner or an inspector.

» See the second resolution here

Tuesday’s workshop was scheduled to begin after the council’s regular agenda-setting session had concluded. The session started just after 6 p.m. and lasted about 90 minutes.

Ultimately, the group agreed to combine the two resolutions into a single proposal to be voted on at the council’s next regular meeting on April 2.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Blake Pennington provided a starting point for the new proposal. The council last week directed Pennington to combine the two resolutions and to highlight areas where the combined ideas overlap.

Some of the agreements on Tuesday had previously been proposed by Jones, including adding a list of the city’s accomplishments and ongoing efforts to the language in the resolution.

And instead of hiring a housing coordinator, the newly combined resolution proposes the hiring of staff only as necessary in an effort to expedite the approval of new housing projects.

Councilmember Bob Stafford initially proposed striking the language that asked for a task force to be formed, but the group as a whole later agreed to keep that request intact for the combined proposal. The new task force would include up to 11 people appointed by the mayor, each with experience in the housing or planning sectors.

Tuesday’s workshop was held inside City Hall and was open to the public and available on both Zoom and a YouTube livestream. However, public comment was not taken and will instead be accepted during the next City Council meeting when the proposal is back on the table.

About 30 people spoke during the initial City Council meeting on March 19, many who told stories of their own challenges in finding an affordable place to live.

Most of those who spoke were in favor of either Jones’ resolution or some combination of it and Wiederkehr’s proposal.